How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Your financial success depends on your current spending. Period.

You can make a bazillion dollars or retire at 85 or win the lottery. None of that will matter as much as your spending habits.

Here's a life hack to ensure your financial success.

On the 15th of every month, log into Financial Zen (or Mint, YNAB, etc.) and look at how much you've spent for the month.

If you've spent more than 50% of your monthly spending goal, then pull back for the next two weeks. Take your lunch to work… shop at Trader Joes instead of Whole Foods...don't buy that thing on Amazon...Netflix & chill instead of going to the movies.

And then on the 1st of the next month, go nuts! Reward your discipline with $15 salads… the most organic thing Whole Foods sells…all the stuff Amazon offers…a flick with a gigantic tub of overpriced popcorn enjoyed in your mega-theater recliner.

This habit will do two things:

1. You'll stay on budget and therefore safeguard your financial future.

2. You'll subconsciously create a positive association with your spending discipline.

It's like eating junk food after meticulously following your diet. If you eat crap all the time, it's not so exciting. But if you splurge after you've been "good", it's incredibly rewarding and reinforces your healthy habits the rest of the time.

Better to pull back for a week or two now, than 52 weeks a year in the future.